You’ve no doubt heard of nutrition as a factor in improving energy levels, healing, strength, and joint health, but did you know that nutrition may be a factor in how well you cope with COPD?

People with COPD come in a variety of body sizes. Like many Americans, many people with COPD are overweight. This adds to the effort (and shortness of breath) associated with activity…and keeping active is very important. On the other hand, as COPD progresses, some people lose weight, a process known as “cachexia.” Both ends of the spectrum are bad places to be. Good nutrition is one (but not the only) measure that can help maintain good health.

Any old source of calories won’t do. The better the quality and nutritional value of the food you put in your body, the more benefits you’ll get out of the food. Here are some foods to avoid.

1. First – and this won’t surprise you – avoid or at least cut down on foods that are devoid of nutritional value: candy, sugary drinks, overly processed foods, caffeinated drinks, fast food, alcohol, and even low calorie/low fat foods (unless you’re overweight and working to shed the extra pounds).

2. Foods that cause heartburn or acid reflux. Acid reflux causes stomach acid to enter the esophagus and sometimes the lungs as well, which can cause a flare-up in breathlessness or chronic cough.

3. Cured and processed meats that have nitrates in them. This includes bacon, cold cuts, hot dogs, and ham. Consumption of nitrates in large amounts can exacerbate COPD symptoms.

4. Salty food. Excess sodium consumption can cause increased blood pressure and water retention, which can interfere with your breathing. Try using herbs and salt-free spices when you can.

5. Foods containing sulfites. Some foods that often contain sulfites: potatoes, shrimp, wine, and beer. Sulfites cause your bronchial tubes to narrow, making it harder to breathe.

Check back next week for information on key nutrients that are especially beneficial for COPD patients, helping them stay as strong and healthy as possible as they cope with their disease.

For even more information on COPD and nutrition, see an informative article by Eden Coleman, published on the COPD Store website.

Nutrition and COPD: 5 Types of Food to Avoid
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